While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially “won” a majority of support from fellow members of his Conservative and Unionist Party, he emerged in a weakened position. There are 359 members of the Tory Party in Westminster, so BOJO needed approximately one hundred eighty votes to ‘survive.’ He did receive fifty-nine percent of the vote (211 to 148); but the fact that members of his own party asked for this vote of confidence is a bad place to begin and the fact that one hundred forty-eight of his fellow Tory Party members voted to replace him may be a sign that the end is in sight.
In modern history, Thatcher ‘won’ a vote of confidence in 1990, as did PM John Major in 1995 and PM Theresa May in 2018, but the vote signaled, whether in days or months an end to their leadership. BOJO has been described as only leaving No. 10 Downing Street in handcuffs or a grave diggers box.
His pugnacious sprit will not allow him to ‘walk’ out the door. In all likelihood, his “Partygate” scandal, in which he violated his own government pandemic lockdown rules, coupled with worldwide high inflation, a European war, losses in several bi-elections and continued challenges presented by the realities of implementing Brexit, combine to paint a bleak picture for BOJO. But before stepping down, he would call for a snap election and throw his fate to the electorate. Afterall, it was only two and a half years ago that he won a landslide victory and BOJO has supreme self confidence in his abilities to connect to the voters.
Irish Nationalists have little use or love for BOJO but are conscious to not take too much pleasure in the PM’s troubles. BOJO is an amoral cad, not bound by any burden of consistency or truth telling, but his transactional nature has been inadvertently beneficial to the cause of Irish unity by getting Brexit ‘done’ and his willingness to negotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol, which did keep a hard border off the Irish Isle and created an economic border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Irish Sea Border
The Irish Sea border helps by more clearly defining the Island of Ireland as a cohesive economic unit, laying a profound and logic-based foundation for the call for Irish unity. Remember that BOJO is the Leader of the Conservative AND Unionist Party and yet he abandoned his commitment to Norther Ireland Unionists that he would not allow an Irish Sea border. BOJO was focused on getting Brexit done and was willing to sacrifice the NI Unionists to accomplish that goal.
The Unionists should embrace this reality, the reality that nobody in Westminster really cares about Northern Ireland (less than 3% of UK population), this relationship the Unionists hold so dear to their identity is a fallacy, it is a one-way relationship. Younger Unionists are seeing this more clearly and appreciating that a future as part of a United Ireland within a progressive European Union is the path to peace, growth, and stability.
In the meantime, elections in Westminster will still have impact on how the march to Irish Unity will play out. A weakened BOJO government may make him more desperate to accommodate unreasonable Unionist demands. In the end, don’t forget that the Conservative and Unionist Party is also known as the Tory Party, “Tory” coming from the middle Irish word “Torai,” meaning outlaw or robber.
The Unionists continue to boycott the Northern Ireland Assembly (Stormont), allegedly due to the Northern Ireland Protocol (Irish Sea Border). DUP Leader Sir Jeff Donaldson stated: “The Northern Ireland Protocol has left me feeling like a second-class citizen.”
UUP Leader Doug Beattie, a Sandhurst (Royal Military Academy) graduate and a MLP from Upper Bann said: “There is a large swath of Unionism where the Protocol is deeply damaging for them, and they fell their identity is under threat.”
While going out of his way to claim he was not threatening violence, Beattie played the age old Orange card of doing just that with his words: “It doesn’t take much to go from a brick to a stone, and from a stone to a petrol bomb to a bullet, and from a bullet to a coffin.”
While in the spirit of inclusion and one trying to follow the call of empathy, it is really a challenge in this case where Orange men and women take umbrage at having their British kippers inspected enroute to Belfast supermarkets causing them to feel like 2nd class citizens versus the Nationalist community who suffered the decades of grave indignities of denial of the right to vote, the right to full education, the right to housing, the right to speak their own language, the right to fly a flag of their choosing, the right to free access to a job, the right to free expression of one’s faith; let alone the loss of liberty, the loss of due process and the loss of life itself. They also must go through inspections. Implicit bias does not even begin to explain the elevated heights of Unionist entitlement exemplified in this continued fit of self-pity.
Contrast the inward-looking self-pity of Unionism with the leaders of the Nationalist community focus on the future, not the past, through a gracious outreach to all. Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O’Neil, to date, has been denied her right to be sworn in as First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly through Unionist political sabotage. While only a symbolic title, Unionism cannot come to grips with giving up of its privilege by following the will of the democratic vote and the law of the land and proceeding with a historic Nationalist First Minister.
What would have been considered remarkable just a short time ago, Sinn Fein Leader Michelle O’Neill has penned a letter to Queen Liz on the occasion of her 70th Jubilee. O’Neill praised the Queen for her “significant contributions” to the Peace Process and spoke of the “value and respect” she had for the Queen advancing the cause of reconciliation; words exhibiting Sinn Fein’s serious intent to lead ALL the Irish people in the Six Counties and all of Ireland in the twenty-first Century.
Saudi Sand Trap
County Antrim native and world class golfer Graeme McDowell is facing blow back from his decision to the grab the oil cash by joining the Saudi Arabia sponsored LIV Golf Invitational, a rival of the PGA Tour. Some would say the ‘blood’ cash, as the Saud’s are looking to paper over dismal human rights status through sponsorship of international sport.
Royal Bank of Canada was one of the first to pull their sponsor relationship with the Irish golfer and American Dustin Johnson. Time will tell if McDowell can work his way of this sand bunker.